Decolonising at Lincoln
As a university, we have committed to recognise and uphold the five principles of our One Community Values: equality, understanding, listening, kindness, acceptance. The present project of decolonising our curriculum and pedagogy flows from and embeds this commitment. The forms this take will vary across the institution and be informed by our professional practice.
Yet while the approach we advocate is not prescriptive, there is currently an opportunity to critically question the ways in which our scholarship, teaching and practice have been shaped. The logics, hierarchies, assumptions, ways of life, and intellectual patterns upon which European colonialism was built, and which it spread across the globe, remain firmly entrenched.
Until recently, at least in the West, many of the most negative aspects of this legacy have gone largely unexamined. At its core, therefore, decoloniality requires a deep critical engagement with the multiple legacies of colonialism and a commitment to work for positive change for all those living in its aftermath. It is a shared commitment that the University must not be a site where acts or processes of oppression are (re)produced, supported, or experienced. Much of this project will be directed to addressing the ways in which the voices and perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and other non-White people have been silenced, misrepresented, or suppressed. Yet we must also remain critically aware of the ways in which the legacies of colonialism continue to shape processes which marginalise people on the often-intersecting bases of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, dis/ability, and/or religion.
Regardless of our backgrounds, roles, or academic disciplines, a decolonial approach encourages us to examine the ways in which particular types and sources of knowledge have been marginalised, and to draw upon a broader range of voices, ideas, approaches, and intellectual perspectives from beyond Western and North American traditions.
As teachers, learners, scholars, citizens, and thinkers we must recognise and understand that the disciplines we teach and the bodies of knowledge in which we teach, work and research are, in many cases, products of, colonial and postcolonial histories and reflect European and North American world views. Decolonising what we do as a university means broadening our awareness and appreciation of different ways of approaching teaching, learning, inquiry, and the transmission of knowledge and culture.
It is an opportunity for us to critically reflect upon our teaching philosophies and to actively develop our programmes and modules to include knowledges and perspectives that have often been marginalised and overlooked. Embracing an active commitment to decoloniality will lead to more positive educational experiences for our pluralistic community of scholars, researchers, teachers, and learners, align with the University’s internationalisation agenda and contribute to our graduates being better equipped for success in a diverse, globalized workplace.
What Does it Mean to Decolonise Our Curriculum and Pedagogy?
Decolonising our university means working together – in our thinking, scholarship, interpersonal relations, teaching, learning, and professional practice – in order to combat and redress the harms, negative influences, and forms of disadvantage associated with coloniality, racism, and ethnocentrism/Eurocentrism. It requires an active and ongoing process of reconsidering and reformulating the workings of our institution, disciplines, professional practices, and pedagogy in order to combat prejudice and to interrogate Western conceptions of knowledge, methodology, pedagogy, scholarship, and learning.
Decolonising our curriculum and pedagogy:
- provides space, support, and resource to enable deep, reflective, and collaborative review of our modules, programmes, and pathways, both in terms of content and delivery
- adds richness, diversity, and plurality to all that we do. It has the potential to shed new light on existing forms of knowledge and established debates
- helps ensure that all members of our teaching and learning communities feel fully able to participate in University life, and see their lives and experiences reflected and valued in their engagements with the institution
- supports and upholds a range of other University programmes, priorities, and values, including our One Community Values, the Internationalisation agenda, diversifying student recruitment, widening participation, improving non-White student attainment, and our deep-rooted commitment to the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusivity.
How Might We Begin Decolonising Our Curriculum and Pedagogy?
What a decolonial approach to teaching and learning entails will obviously vary by discipline and level and may need to be developed in ways that respect specific professional standards and regulatory frameworks. There is no one model that will be correct for all disciplines. However, as we embark on this journey together, the following key questions have been developed to prompt reflection and debate within module and programme teams:
Do our modules and programmes draw upon non-Western scholarship, knowledge, or sources? Do we situate our work within one tradition, or within multiple traditions? Are there hidden histories to our disciplines/subject areas which should be acknowledged and highlighted?
How might we embed a commitment to plurality and diversity of thought while safeguarding those aspects of our programmes and modules that already work well and deliver necessary content? How might we present orthodox approaches alongside or in dialogue with new materials?
How might we encourage the development of inclusive classroom cultures which
- build on ethical foundations?
- plan and implement learning activities that challenge non-inclusive thinking?
- value and encourage the sharing of students’ knowledge and experiences?
- help shape students' knowledge into action?
- challenge power relationships?
- ensure that space is provided for perspectives that might otherwise be underrepresented?
How do we draw upon traditions of sustainable thinking, including those from Indigenous and non-White knowledge sources, to deepen our appreciation for the environment and our relationship with it?
How much scholarship from non-Anglophone and non-Western sources do we offer to our students (both in their original languages and in translation), to introduce us and them to new perspectives?
To what extent do our degree and module design processes, assessment and feedback procedures, research supervisions and pedagogic practices reflect our commitment to decoloniality?
Are there models of best practice we can identify that are operating successfully at our institution or elsewhere?
How does one become part of a community of practice as we Re-Imagine Curriculum and Pedagogy for One Community?